Warm Bodies Primer: 5 Things to Know Before Warming Up to the Hottest Zombie Rom-Com

A new take on a Shakespearean classic, a killer cast and more have us cheering for this undead love story

By Matt Stevens Feb 01, 2013 8:30 PMTags
Nick Hoult, Warm BodiesSummit

A zombie apocalypse can really put a damper on your dating life. But no worries! As we learn from Warm Bodies, based on Isaac Marion's YA novel, even flesh-eating monsters can learn to love and live again. Nicholas Hoult stars as R, a soulful zombie who's smitten by human resistance fighter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and saves her from an undead attack. Instead of devouring her brain, which tends to kill the mood, R keeps Julie safe in the abandoned airplane he calls home. Love soon blossoms, but ravenous zombies and armed security forces threaten to tear them apart. Hungry for more? Feast on five fun facts about this corpse-meets-girl romance.

Jonathan Wenk/Summit Entertainment

1. Wherefore Art Thou, R? You might think this undead love story is just a Twilight retread with zombies—after all, there's lots of pale skin on display. But Warm Bodies owes a bigger debt to Romeo and Juliet, with its houses-divided themes, lovers' names and even a romantic balcony scene and kiss. While author Marion acknowledges the Shakespearean subtext and allusions, he also insists his novel is somewhat autobiographical. Which makes you wonder—whose brains has he been eating?

Jonathan Wenk/Summit Entertainment

2. The Cast Is Killer: British actor Hoult (About a Boy) is surprisingly charismatic as a stumbling, scar-faced zombie and develops a sweet rapport with Aussie-born Palmer (I Am Number Four). John Malkovich glowers effectively as Julie's disapproving dad, the leader of the militia. Adding comic relief, The Daily Show alum Rob Corddry plays R's best friend, M—sort of a zombified Mercutio—who grunts the film's funniest line: "Bitches, man."

Jan Thijs/Summit Entertainment

3. A Monster Mash-Up and More: With 50/50, director Jonathan Levine proved he could balance cancer drama with laughs. Here he throws everything but entrails into the mix (but keeps the gore to a minimum for younger audiences). Warm Bodies features exciting zombie action, gentle romance, humorous voiceovers, POV flashbacks, CGI creatures, and—like the best zombie movies—social commentary. Still, Levine prevents this packed genre-bender from getting as messy as, well, one of R's meals.

Jan Thijs/Summit Entertainment

4. A Terminally Long Layover: The airport in Warm Bodies has been overtaken by the undead, including R and M, who frequently hang at the bar (and who wouldn't?). Needing a zombie-ridden airport for a primary location, the filmmakers lucked out by gaining access to an entire Montreal airport that was virtually abandoned several years ago. Here's an inside joke to impress your date: After initially planning to name it Barack Obama International Airport, the filmmakers instead chose Isaac Marion International Airport—a wink-wink to the novelist.

Summit Entertainment

5. You Spin Me Right Round Like a Record, Zombie: As potential boyfriend material, R faces a few challenges: He lacks any fast moves, stares blankly and can only moan and mutter a few words at a time. So how does this sensitive dude express himself? Through music, of course. R hoards an old turntable and impressive collection of LPs, because vinyl is "more alive." Take that, digital. Playing such to-die-for tunes as John Waite's "Missing You" and Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart," R eventually wins over Julie—and us.